Bulldogs make gains while rubbing elbows with strong competition at USD Challenge

By Jacob Knabel on Apr. 13, 2024 in Track & Field

VERMILLION, S.D. – The competition was stiff on Saturday (April 13) as Concordia University Track & Field went up against the likes of NCAA Division I University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University as part of the South Dakota Challenge in Vermillion, S.D. Unseasonably hot temperatures greeted the nationally ranked Bulldogs, who came away with five event championships and five second-place claims. The titles were won by Matthew Boyer (javelin), Kylahn Freiberg (5,000 meters), Calvin Rohde (5,000 meters), Gretchen Stottlemyre (javelin) and Chris Wren (hammer). Boyer exceeded a personal best of more than 200 feet in the javelin.

This marked the third full-scale weekend of outdoor competition for Head Coach Matt Beisel’s squads. They entered the weekend having compiled a combined 12 NAIA automatic national qualifying standards. The opposition at the meet also included the likes of GPAC rival Dordt and NCAA Division II Augustana College (S.D.).

“We saw some really good competition,” Beisel said. “We had some good things happen and then there were some things that didn’t click just right. With our distance crew, we usually do a pretty good job of pushing PR’s. We’ve been hitting our training really hard, and that’s going to benefit them two weeks from now. I think their legs were all a little dead. We did have some improvements in some areas. It’s part of the process. It was nice to be outside and have great weather. I just love being with this team and am thankful to God for all the blessings He’s given this team.”

Throwers have racked up six ‘A’ marks through the middle of April. The Jefferson City, Mo., native Boyer starred on Saturday with his first-place javelin mark of 201’ 6,” in addition to his runner-up toss of 154’ 3” in the discus at the USD Challenge. As for Wren, he is a model of consistency while continuing to push 200 feet in the hammer. He threw 193 feet on Saturday. The runner up in that event was teammate Darien Semedo, who again eclipsed ‘A’ marks in both the shot put (53’ 9 ¾”) and the hammer (185’ 1”). On the women’s side, Stottlemyre took first in the javelin with a mark of 128’ 4” and Abby Gerber hit a shot put PR of 47’ 2 ¼.”

National champion Zach Zohner continues to achieve excellence in the pole vault. He put a new outdoor personal best on the board by clearing 17 feet in Vermillion. That effort made him the fifth vaulter in program history to go 17 feet or higher in outdoor competition. In addition, Mayson Ostermeyer cleared 15’ ¼” as he backs up an All-America indoor season. On the women’s side of the vault, Sydney Reichert led the way by going over 11’ 3 ¾.” Two Bulldogs also cleared 10’ 8.”

The heat wasn’t necessarily conducive to great times in distance races, but All-Americans Freiberg and Rohde gave Concordia a sweep of the 5,000-meter titles. Freiberg finished in 17:58.43 and Rohde clocked in at 15:25.66. Trey Robertson was the runner up to Rohde in a time of 15:46.53. A major highlight on the track was put forth by junior Jenna Esch, who posted a PR of 56.37 in the 400 meters (fourth place). In the hurdles, Adrianna Rodencal placed second (100m H) with at time of 13.96 while Gage Fries ran a solid time of 15.09 (fifth place) in the 110 hurdles. Trevor Kuncl ran a solid 4:04.25 in the 1,500 meters.

Sophomore Josi Noble put together a strong all-around day as she nearly hit the auto mark in the triple jump with a new ‘B’ mark of 38’ 1 ½” (personal best). She placed fourth in the event. Noble also ran hurdles times of 15.92 in the 100 and 1:06.82 in the 400. A standout jumper on the men’s side, Myles Sadd posted marks of 22’ 3” in the long jump and 6’ 1 ¼” in the high jump. In the women’s high jump, Amy Richert placed fifth while getting above 5’ 2 ½.” In the men’s triple jump, Jonah Paulsen landed at 43’ 5 ¼.”

To expand upon the throws, a couple of men’s athletes are closing in on the ‘A’ mark in the hammer. Conner Asche (176’ 10”) and Austen Rozelle (176’ 2”) just missed out again on Saturday. Also noteworthy, Kamryn Pokorney achieved a ‘B’ in the shot put (43’ 9 ¼”) and was the team’s top female in the hammer (164’ 1”).

In the relays, the women’s 4x1 came in at 48.40 and the men’s 4x4 clocked in at 3:32.00. The 4x1 of Cambria Saunders, Kayla Kirchner and Rodencal owns a ‘B’ (47.66) on the season.

Automatic National Qualifying Standards

·        Matthew Boyer – Javelin (201’ 6”)

·        Jenna Esch – 400 Meters (56.37)

·        Abby Gerber – Shot Put (47’ 2 ¼”)

·        Darien Semedo – Shot Put (53’ 9 ¾”); Hammer (185’ 1”)

·        Chris Wren – Hammer (193’)

·        Zach Zohner – Pole Vault (17’)

South Dakota Challenge Champions

·        Matthew Boyer – Javelin (201’ 6”)

·        Kylahn Freiberg – 5,000 Meters (17:58.43)

·        Calvin Rohde – 5,000 Meters (15:25.66)

·        Gretchen Stottlemyre – Javelin (128’ 4”)

·        Chris Wren – Hammer Throw (193’)

The Bulldogs will be headed to Doane for the first time this outdoor season when they compete at next week’s Jim Dutcher Memorial Classic (April 18-20) in Crete. Only two weeks of competition remain prior to the 2024 GPAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 3-4).